Friday, November 30, 2012

Wee Gifts and Other Sickeningly Cute Things

My kids say anytime I'm trying to convince someone to do something, I add an "ie" to the end of words.  As in: "Want some Starbuckies?", "Let's watch Freakie Geekie" (Freaks and Geeks), "Wanna go on a walkie?",  "Will you fold the laundries?"   The last one doesn't really work, but you get the idea- it's cutesy talk; the kind you use with your pets.  A little of it goes a long way.

But they're wrong.  It's not about manipulation it has more to do with the size of the event and wether or not it's an act of kindness.  No one says,"I'm sorry but you'll have to have a root canalie"  or "We need a divorcie."  See?

This hat qualifies as a giftie because it goes on a baby's head, was fun to make, and is just a little spontaneous gift.   Spontaneity is another prerequisite for sickeningly cute talk.  It just hit me last night, that one of my husband's friends just had a baby and I had leftover yarn for a baby hat.  So, I picked the Aviatrix pattern by Justine Turner, found some scrap yarn in a soft merino, and was finished in one sitting.  Baby knits are a good ego boost. 

It's so little and cute.  I really want a head to put it on.  "Honey, lets have another baby-ie..."  I considered my little dog, but I don't think the new parents would appreciate that.  Still, it was a satisfying little knit to give.  Plus, I've never made a short row hat before and  am so sick of double points (from doing the sleeves on Georgia) right now, that it was a nice change.

My notes: I followed the directions for worsted yarn in the second size.   Since I didn't have enough blue for a solid hat, I knit the band in green and contrasting purl rows in green too.  I didn't want to cut any yarn because I was short and that wastes it, so after working a green row between the short row sections, I'd just slide the work to the other side of my circular needle.  I could, then, pick up the blue yarn where I'd left it for the next short row section.  The beauty of these sections is that when they are done I'm right at the spot where I left the green yarn and can pick it up for the contrasting purl row, no twisting or carrying of yarn necessary.

Little baby heads...sigh...

 (my Flickr and Ravelry)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Favorite Slouchy Hat So Far

I have the same problem with all slouchy hats: they either fall off if I run in them or fall down,  Dumb Donald style, over my face.  I love Fat Albert's gang, but it's not the most practical look for me.   I vowed to remedy it with this hat pattern by Irina Bil.  It's my new favorite for Friday night football in our school's colors.  It's a basic shape made interesting with lots of texture and it looks good inside-out too.

My mods: Using size 4 needles and working in the round, I cast on 88 stitches in Queensland Merino Spray for it to fit my freakishly small head.  I followed the instructions otherwise, except for the top, where I used Katy's notes to keep the stitch pattern going all the way through the decreases.

You can see the texture goes all the way to the top, below.  The ribbed brim is long enough to be folded over for a watchman style cap, too.  

 (more on my Ravelry and my Flickr)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Swan

I really needed this.   It's Black Swan by Tara Shade and it was the thing that took my mind off of a holiday flu/ migraine bummer.  Big needles are like my grandmother's chicken soup: complete comfort food.

Using size 17s, this thing was done within a few episodes of Dr. Who.  I watched to the point where Donna left the show, which was another bummer, but looky! I have a mini sweater!

At first, I thought I might want to hold a strand of wortsed weight yarn in another color with the black thick and thin yarn I got from a thrift store sweater, see the sampler below.

 I finally decided to just hold two strands of the black together and I'm glad I did.   It only requires 110- 170 yds of bulky yarn and since most knitters have a few balls of Lion Brand Thick and Quick or something laying around, there is no reason not to make it.  This could be a last minute, Christmas Eve gift.

(the Apocalyptic stage)

My mods:  I actually made this once, but felt like it was a little baggy in back for me, so I ripped it back and reknit it casting on 26 stitches for each side.  I also bound off 3 stitches instead of 4 for the first bind off row on each side of the neckline.

Otherwise, I followed the directions.  My finished shrug fits in back while allowing me to flail my arms wildly if I so choose to.  What more could I want?  

I love the split collar. (I'm not sure if that's what you'd call it.)  I think I'll do another in a different shade and using only one strand of bulky yarn.

I was knitting this with the Holla Knits group on Ravelry, but I felt all yuck and needed some instant gratification, so I skipped ahead and finished.  Check out the others' Swans too.

And if you're interested, only if you're really, really interested - Top 20 Donna Noble moments.

(more on my Ravelry and my Flickr)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Clutch KAL, Week 1

This is week 1 of the Scallop of the Sea Knitalong.  Have I said how much I love these colors together yet?

(My son set aside Assassin's Creed long enough to help me take this photo.)

As usual, I had one false start in which I knit well past the week's goal only to see that the stitches were too loose and the whole bag would be a few inches wider than I'd like.

After much annoying untwisting and unravelling of the stranded piece, I decided that on my second try I'd use a two handed throwing technique that combines continental and English knitting styles, like "real" fair isle knitters do.

Since I'm used to the English style, holding a second strand in my left hand and throwing it around the needle from there felt weird, like brushing my teeth with the wrong hand; but once I got used to it, I see I can knit about as fast as I was previously without having to perpetually untwist yarn balls.   This means that ripping anything back will also not require much untwisting, should I need to correct a mistake.  Plus, I can carry my floats easily in this way, which just looks pretty.  

(more on my Ravelry)

I'm back down to size 2s again.  I need to just invest in several small sized addi turbo needles (sizes 0 to 4) for Christmas.  I'd call this a hint, but no one from my everyday life reads this except my grandmother, and I may have lost her back there with all the two handed throwing technique business.  But, it is almost Cyber Monday....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why Do Sewing Needles Scare Me?

Maybe it's the cut-offs I tried to hem in high school; they ended up shorter in front than in back.  Or it may be the lining I sewed into this bag with uneven stitches.  Probably it was the blood I spilled sewing taekwondo patches on testing gis.  They were white.  Somewhere along the way, I decided I didn't like sewing needles and that I should avoid them.

But I want this clutch, so I bought lining fabric, interface (?), a zipper, thread, and big orange sewing scissors like my mom had (the ones we weren't supposed to use to cut up boxes and junk, but we did anyway).  (Hey, I finally googled wether or not to put the period into the parenthesis or outside.  It only took 20 years.)

My swatch is so pretty, even without the scallop detail.  Since I received the yarn in a giveaway, I didn't have to worry about choosing coordinating colors.  I really like these.  I probably would have picked more subdued colors, and regretted it, if I'd bought them myself.  This is going to be a good change of pace.

Recycling a Sweater

Years ago, I read an article about recycling thrift store sweaters by Ashley Martineau.   I promptly went out and bought a rubbermaid tub full of thrift store sweaters to unravel.
Two moves and maybe eight years later, I finally cracked the tub open and picked a Target wool/blend sweater for recycling into the Black Swan pattern.

I followed Ashley's directions loosely because I had a headache and had trouble finding the right strand of yarn without really strong light.  But it still produced several big balls of yarn.

I started with a side seam at the bottom, where the two sides meet like side-by-side braids.  I clipped the ladders of yarn between the two "braids" or edges of each side.

Once I found the this side seam, it was relatively easy to see the sweater's construction, and to disassemble it, as I went.   (Check out Ashley's tutorial, because this post just isn't tutorial material.)

I worked on around the shoulder until the sleeves were separated from the body.  I, then, separated the turtleneck and undid each sleeve seam.

Of course I clipped bits I shouldn't have and so had a few more separate balls of yarn than I'd like, but it was no big deal.

I began looping it around the "ghetto noddy," inspired by Ashley, that my husband built for me all those years ago.  I lost count around 250 yards, so I'm pretty sure I have enough.  I knotted three balls together for this amount of yarn, but will undo the knots as I come to them in the ball winding or knitting.

After measuring my yarn, I tried to tie the skein like I find them in yarn stores, weaving a tie in and out to form three sections at each tie.  I don't really know what I'm doing here.

I, then, removed the yarn and twisted it into a skein for washing.  It is now hanging in my shower, with a coat hanger to weight it a bit, in hopes that some of the kinks will fall out of it.

Now I need to decide what color of old stash yarn I want to hold together with the black to get a super bulky weight yarn.  I can't decide: cream, bright red, grey, or burgundy-ish.

(my Ravelry and my Flickr, where you won't find the above photo)

Here's what I learned:  Conservation is a good thing, but I really don't like unravelling.

Most likely, I'll be using all of my store bought yarn before I dip into the recycle bin again.

I need glasses.  My winding, untangling, and cutting at this sweater was about as precise as Mr. Magoo's would be.

I have so much patience with the actual knitting process, often re-knitting sweaters to get them just right, but I truly hate these preliminaries.

My shower is a dank and scary place, requiring much photo post-processing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Two Accessories in the "Before" Stage

I mentioned that I got stuff in my last post.  One of these giveaways was on Katie Canavan's blog for enough yarn to knit her Scallop of the Sea clutch, and it's just in time for the knitalong.  When the Holla Knits Accessories Issue came out, I knew I'd be making this one, even though I have enough yarn now to knit half of my queue.  I was relieved from having to make a decision in this moral dilemma of whether or not to buy more yarn by winning it in the giveaway.  And look at the extra goodies she sent with it.

I've been working on Georgia, which I had to reknit in the smallest size to get the right fit, and was getting a little tired of stockinette sleeves in fingering weight; so this quick project will be a nice change of pace.  I do still need to find material and a zipper, though.

I decided to do another quick group knit to make Black Swan, by Tara Shade, since I found an old thrift store sweater (below) I meant to recycle for wool years ago.  It still has the tag and is like new, so I'll have to get busy pulling it apart and washing it.  But, again, no yarn was added to my hoard.

I'll be making these with a clear conscience.  When I'm not making them, I'll be working on Henri, because I want an oversized, cabled sweater for the winter.

Where's my Stuff?

Remember Melanie Hutsell's "Where's my stuff!?" bit on SNL?

I don't blame you if you skipped it, it was kind of long (the best part is at 4:12), but it takes me back to my first election to ever participate in, so I indulged.

Oh yeah, and I got stuff!  I never win stuff.  Actually, I never try to win stuff, but this last month I did and won four times.  (One was for participation, but three were just for stalking blogs and commenting.)   It so pays to lurk.

Let me tell you about one of my prizes.  I won a copy of Teresa Gregorio's ebook Ghosts on Kathleen Dames' website.

It was the day after Halloween when I received it and found it would be a good read even without the patterns.  But the patterns are great.

There's just a lot I didn't know about the subject of ghosts.  This sent me on some internet chases about Houdini's Margery Box and some of the earliest photos of "ghosts" or ectoplasm as Teresa covers the development of ghost lore in Western culture.  The way the lore changed due to the perceived audience and available technology to prove (or stage) it's existence had never occurred to me.

As a Protestant Christian who doesn't believe in free roaming ghosts of the dead, I found it interesting that she notes the similarity between Hebrew doctrine and that of the Protestant reformation concerning ghosts, namely the fact that they don't really mention them.  (There is a very interesting quote by King James I here.)  She suggests it was from the same doctrinal motivation to encourage monotheism.   Since Protestant beliefs were based upon that of the Hebrews, I think it was the same; but personally, I think the mention they do make of the spirits inside of each person made for eternity, of the Holy Spirit, and of angelic beings could pretty much explain any ghost sitings.  It also brought Jude 1:6 to my mind, where the proper domain of angelic beings is mentioned and how it had been breached.   Of course, I still don't get that thing about Samuel...  but anyway, she got me thinking.

The way the rest of the world views a spirit's domain is something I know little about.  I only know that, globally, there are lots of similarities in ancient texts about creation, cataclysm, judgement, and messiah types.  So, Teresa's overview of the purpose or cause for their belief in roaming spirits was new to me.  Bhuts are the creepiest of all, but the fact that they inspired the sock pattern in the book cracks me up.

Now, as for the patterns, they are all very unique and wearable, I can't decide which are my favorites.  I'm thinking it is probably the Athenodorus skirt and the Calavera Catrina bonnet.  That skirt is so cool with it's changing yarn weights.  I wonder if I can get it knit by spring?

Thank you, Kathleen, for hosting the drawing and Canary Sanctuary for giving the ebook.  I will never, ever have to ask "Where's my stuff?!" again.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sofa Hack

We needed a couch, one that could withstand growing people who flop rather than sit and a cat's occasionally claw honing.

I kept going back to this and this; only, I knew this was going to be heavily used furniture and expensive, precious things have no place in our home for reasons shown in the photo below.  This left me with an Ikea hack I'd wanted to try.

The couch- After deciding to do it, we bought a Karlstad couch from Ikea the next day.  I normally wouldn't like this couch very much because the cushions seem shapeless without actually being overstuffed or comfy; but I knew the tufting would add some structure.

Spending the day at Ikea was the hardest part of this project.  I get that it has lots of quirky, affordable home furnishings,  I just resent being herded through a labyrinth of Danish modern to pick up one thing.  The intention is to weaken my resolve so that, by the time I reach the stairs, I'll fill my cart with every throw pillow and fake potted plant I see.  My first impulse was to stalk away without buying anything, shouting, "I'll show you!  I'll make my own sofa from pallets!"  However, the two hour drive to get there curbed any outrage.  My son thinks it's the Ross of home furnishings.

Button fabric- I picked up an extra throw pillow in the same fabric as the couch to use for covering the buttons.  Set up was easy and I Scotch Guarded everything until the room was spinning.

The legs- On our way home from Ikea I ordered tapered, oak legs from Uncle Bob's Workshop, which I'm hesitant to list because we waited so long for them to arrive.  They were made to screw right into Ikea furniture, so no mounts were needed.  I've since seen that Pretty Pegs offers Ikea replacement legs too, but at twice the price.

 (Compare the original legs with the tapered oak.)

The actual tufting- If you decide to do this project and get some crazy $1000 quote for covering buttons and tufting your cushions from an upholsterer, just hang up; you don't need them.  Some upholsterers I called thought I wanted true diamond tufting, which would be impossible with these cushions.  But another seemed offended that I wanted help with a small DIY project, not a big job.  I did manage to find one upholsterer who said he'd cover the buttons for a few cents a piece and show me how to tuft them.  I could have done these things myself, but I also needed some other furniture rebuilt and recovered, so I took the offer.  He did a good job, but, again, it took months instead of the promised week or two, and he never did show me how to tuft.

At this point, my summer project was almost a winter project, so I took a morning to tuft the cushions last week.  I used this tutorial, though there are others.  I was a little nervous about running a needle through the upholstery, but after seeing my cat's claws go into the new sofa one too many times, I'm thinking,"How can I do any more damage?"  It is just Ikea furniture!

It wasn't hard at all; just make sure you have more twine than you think you'll need (maybe 20 in. of twine per button pair, or about 27 ft. total) for easy gripping.   Once you've pulled the twine through and attached both buttons, don't be timid about bringing them fairly close together.   I was unsure if I was pulling too much, so I left the twine ends hanging from the knots until all of the tufting was done.   This gave me the option to loosen or tighten, as needed, before snipping the ends.  I opted out of tufting the seat cushions, though I love the look, because the upholsterer told me it doesn't feel as good as it looks and the buttons get pulled off easily.

My guess on our total expensearound $751, compared to the $1400 - 1800 of a Room & Board sofa.

large Karlstad sofa with cover- $599
ready to screw on tapered legs- $88
Button covering for 40 buttons (we got a few extras)- under $15
nylon upholstery twine from Joann- under $15
extra throw pllow for button fabric- $29
upholsterer's needle- maybe $5 (it has now been months since I purchased it.)

We also bought two extra throw pillows for the couch- $60

There are less expensive tufted sofas out there, on sites like Home Decorators Collection, but we've sat on Ikea sofas before and knew what to expect.  They can also be handled in the showroom before purchase.  I really wanted to go with something slipcovered for easy care, and there are sites, like Bemz, that specialize in Ikea replacement covers if we want to update them.  Given the fact that in the first week we had the couch I spilled a glass of red wine on it, I'm think slipcovers were a good choice.

(We now have multiple scratchers set, strategically, around our house.  We are hopeful.)

Edit 11/19/12 - This hack was featured on Ikea Hackers site.

Edit 4/27/15- I have heard so many negative things about Uncle Bob's service that I thought I should mention it here.  Customers are waiting unusually long times for their sofa legs or aren't receiving them at all, even after payment.
Ikea is also offering a tapered aluminum leg as an option, now.

Since posting this I've added Ikea-specific slip covers to my sofa now.  The process and tutorial for tufting them is here.  I had no problems with the original covers from Ikea, but these were velvet and my cat doesn't claw them.